Aymeric Laporte recently changed international allegiances from France to Spain. We look at other notable players who did the same.
Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte recently made the news for changing which country he represents at international level. Born in France but of Basque descent, Aymeric Laporte was eligible to play for Spain as well. Yet when a France senior call-up never came, he took up Spanish citizenship.
But while this might seem scandalous – turning on one’s nation isn’t a small thing – it is nothing new in the world of football. Players with this kind of choice will almost always look for the option that gives them more play time.
Here are ten other such players who changed their international allegiance.
Diego Costa – The Brazil-born striker applied for Spanish citizenship before the 2014 World Cup… that took place in Brazil. The decision won him few friends in his home country and he was even criticised by then-Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. He made two appearances for Brazil before taking Spanish citizenship, both in friendlies. In 24 appearances for Spain, Costa has scored 10 goals.
Wilfried Zaha – Born in Ivory Coast, Zaha moved to England aged four and thus turned out for them at youth level. He did play for England but again, only in friendly matches. He then got the opportunity to play for his country of birth and accepted the offer. In 20 appearances for the Elephants, he’s found the back of the net 5 times.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – The current Arsenal skipper was born in France to a Gabonese father and Spanish mother. His international options, therefore, were aplenty. He started his career in the French youth system but switched to Gabon for his senior career. He is their leading all-time goalscorer.
Kalidou Koulibaly – The Napoli centre-back was born to Senegalese parents in France. Like Aubameyang, he too came through the French international youth system but switched to his country of birth thereafter. He is currently his national side’s captain, for whom he’s made 45 appearances.
Nevin Subotic – The legendary centre-back, best known for his time in Borussia Dortmund, had a hard childhood. His parents fled Yugoslavia and they lived in Germany before settling in USA. He represented Amerca at U-17 and U-20 level but switched to Serbia for his senior career.
Kevin Prince-Boateng – The brother of Germany’s Jerome Boateng, KPB too played for Germany at youth level. Yet for his senior career he chose to play for Ghana, his country of descent. He was part of the Black Stars side that made the last eight in the 2010 World Cup.
Jack Grealish – The Aston Villa skipper played for Ireland at all youth levels. Yet he chose to play for England at senior level, a decision that did not go down well in his home country. He will most likely be a part of the English side to play in the Euro 2020.
Ivan Rakitic – Rakitic played a key part in Croatia’s run to the 2018 World Cup final. Yet he could have played for another country too: Switzerland. He played youth football for his adopted country but would play senior football for his nation of birth.